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 (Manna 22: Indifferent Neighbors)
Thoughts by the Brook of Cherith
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Thoughts by the Brook of Cherith


            “Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word. ‘And the word of the Lord came to him, ‘Depart from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.’ So he went and did according to the word of the Lord; he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.” (1 Kings 17:1-7)


IN THESE seven verses of the Bible two characters together with a few other things were mentioned, namely:- (1) Prophet Elijah, Elisha called him the chariot and the horsemen of Israel. (2) King Ahab, the wicked king who listened to the ill advice of his idolatrous queen, Jezebel. (3) The brook of Cherith seldom mentioned in other parts of the Bible. (4)The Jordan which is well-known to Christians because God had performed a wondrous deed there by allowing the Israelites cross over the river on dry land. (5) A flock of ravens.


The Brook of Cherith was situated east of the Jordan. It flowed through the land which was allotted to the tribe of Gad. During the period of the kings the land belonged to the kingdom of Israel. Geographically it was located in the heart of the land of Canaan (please refer to the map above). The land of Gad had high mountains and deep valleys; plains and rivers while Cherith was one of the rivers (Josh 13:8-1 1).

This region did not usually encounter drought. But when King Ahab was ruling Israel he did great evil in the sight of God. This provoked the anger of God greatly. And God brought a drought for three years and six months to the land. As a result of drought the Israelites suffered famine terribly all because of one man.


When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said, “Is it you, you troubler of  Israel?” Elijah replied, “I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baal.” (1 kings 18:16-18). The wicked deeds of Ahab are described as follows: “Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all that were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboarn the son of Nebat, he took for wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:30-33). When a king goes against the Lord God the whole nation will suffer. Similarly, if the leaders of the church deviate from the truth then the entire congregation will suffer. 


According to James, Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its vegetation. Elijah was mightily used by God because he was righteous. He totally submitted to the will of God, accepting the commission of God readily. When told to depart from Gilead and turn eastward and hide himself by the brook of Cherith, he did accordingly. He responded to God’s call just like Abraham, going without any hesitation. Elijah had great faith in God. Even when God told him that the ravens would feed him he was absolutely certain that what God had spoken would surely come to pass. His dealings with man were straightforward. He admonished king Ahab immediately and unreservedly. He remained pure towards the widow whom God told him to stay with. When the brook of Cherith dried up, the word of the Lord came to him, “Arise, go to Zarepheth, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you” (1 Kings 17:7-9). Elijah was also a man of courage. He challenged Jezebel’s 850 false prophets on Mount Carmel. His victory on Mount Carmel revived the faith of the Israelites tremendously. After Elijah completed his mighty work on earth God sent a whirlwind to take him to heaven. He was the second person who went up to heaven without tasting death.


In Leviticus, ravens are classified as unclean birds: “And these you shall have in abomination among the birds, they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the osprey, the kite, the falcon according to its kind, every raven according to its kind” (Lev 11:13-15). Human wisdom will never be able to comprehend the mighty works of God. Why did God not send a clean animal to bring food to Elijah? If God wills, even unclean animals can be useful tools to Him. Harlots have no status in society are considered outcasts. But when Joshua sent two men as spies to view the land of Jericho, a harlot named Rahab saved the two spies from the king’s guards. God can use us even though we are lowly and untalented, as long as we are humble and willing to be used by Him. Moses declined God’s calling by saying that he was not eloquent, but a man of slow speech and of tongue. Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” Prophet Isaiah, too, said that he was a man of unclean lips and he dwelt in the midst of a people of unclean lips. But God sent a messenger with a burning coal and touched Isaiah’s lips to burn away his filth. God used Moses and Isaiah mightily. Paul said rather aptly: “Consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor 1:26-29).

Every morning and evening, the ravens by the brook of Cherith would dutifully bring bread and meat to Elijah. Also, they did not eat up the food halfway. In Guilin, China, the people catch fish in the river not by using nets but cormorants. Cormorants are domestic animals very similar to ducks. They have long necks and are highly skilful in catching river fish. But before they are let out for the catch their master would have to fix a ring at the bottom of their necks or else the fish they catch would go down to their bellies. However, the ravens at the brook did not eat up the food meant for Elijah.

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